Many companies view social media as simply one part of their marketing strategy – using it to tweet or otherwise share company announcements, comment on relevant news, and distribute company-authored content.
But increasingly, savvy businesses are recognizing social media not just as a channel for communicating with customers, but as the entire foundation for how customers perceive these companies’ brands. Simply put, social media is amplifying everything a business does today. This means, in turn, that managing customer experience is a much more complicated proposition than it used to be. Thankfully, startups like social media management platform Sprinklr have developed software to help multinational corporations, including the likes of Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Nike, and Dell, turn social media into an opportunity.
Sprinklr was founded in 2009 by CEO Ragy Thomas and quickly made a name for itself as the most complete social media management platform for the enterprise. Today, the company is valued at $1.8 billion and finds itself ahead of the pack, ramping up to tackle a greater challenge confronting business leaders – the ability to manage the complete customer experience in the era of the connected consumer.
According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and sponsored by Sprinklr, 86% of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for success, and 75% believe social media will be an “extremely important” bulwark of successful customer experiences in the future. But at the same time, only 34% agree they have the necessary tools and skills to deliver superior experiences to customers.
As Thomas described it at Sprinklr’s Digital Transformation Summit in April, businesses today operate somewhat like they do in a village – customers communicate directly with each other and with businesses, and the reputations of shop owners are widely known. But today, that village comprises seven billion people, and each is connected with the other via multiple lines of communication.
“Experience is the new brand. People define what a brand is based on their experience with a company across all touchpoints,” Thomas said in an interview with TrueBridge Capital Partners. “Social is the foundation for that customer experience, and consequently, social media management is the foundation for customer experience management.”
Controlling this shift from a unidirectional brand message to a collective conversation has become so critical that Sprinklr sees itself as pioneering a new category for the enterprise: Customer Experience Management (CXM). And while social media management solutions have existed for some time, Battery Ventures’ Neeraj Agrawal, an early investor in Sprinklr, notes that the company’s recently expanded Experience Cloud software takes a different approach from point solutions.
“Sprinklr’s core platform actually has nothing to do with social. It’s much more than that: the platform provides an abstraction layer that goes across all consumer touchpoints, and allows you to think about communications at the broadest level,” said Agrawal. “Ragy realized early on that listening, which was the original focus for social, is interesting. But it doesn’t have operational impact. The hard part is how to engage across these channels in a cohesive way.”
With extensions of its platform for each major customer-facing department, and integrations with existing legacy systems across marketing, advertising, research, commerce and care (coined “MARCC”), Sprinklr argues that it can offer what no point solution can provide alone – a record of each consumer’s experience with a brand and the ability to act on it in real-time.
Microsoft, a long-time Sprinklr client, is proof that this holistic approach to customer experience management is entirely new for the enterprise and, until now, was operationally impossible.
“We initially brought in Sprinklr to do listening, along with six different social products,” said Grad Conn, General Manager and Chief Marketing Officer of Microsoft USA. “But as we started doing listening, it became more about engaging and managing channels more proactively.”
Conn and his team saw the effects of trying to manage customer experiences across departments and the need to substitute communication in silos for consistent engagement across channels and markets.
“That’s where we saw the direction of Sprinklr – a more comprehensive view of the customer experience than everyone else, which were more point solutions. And we knew adding point solutions wasn’t the solution,” said Conn. “We spent maybe three months evaluating and made the decision to just go with Sprinklr.”
But embracing a CXM approach isn’t just a philosophical adjustment. It also requires reorganising a company to put customers at a unified centre. According to Conn, more than 2,000 Microsoft employees already rely on Sprinklr, and Microsoft plans to continue building out its customer-centric approach by renaming its “Social Command Center” to the “Customer Command Center” later this year.
While it’s an undertaking to restructure enterprise customer care, Sprinklr is well equipped for the task. The company has made the enterprise its focus from the beginning, including providing features to address governance and privacy challenges that SMB-focused platforms don’t support.
As social media-fueled crises continue bubbling up into boardrooms, and consumers become even more informed and connected, Sprinklr appears ready to address a rapidly growing market with a new class of enterprise software.
“Ragy’s already had success building a major SaaS company, so he’s gone through this before and knows how to build a product with real scale,” said Agrawal. “CXM is in the early stages of a 10- to 15-year megatrend, but I have no doubt it will be how people start thinking about their organizations and systems going forward. Putting customers at the center and building systems around them – Sprinklr is uniquely structured to handle that.”
Written by: TrueBridge Capital
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